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Why Kelly Clarkson Has Teachers to Thank for Her Career and How She's Giving Back

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Kelly Clarkson's childhood teachers helped her bloom into the musician she is today, so now she's planting the seeds to help educators thrive.

That, and have a little bit of fun. A longtime partner of Norwegian Cruise Line, Kelly has teamed up with the company to give away free cruises and the chance for three top teachers to win up to $25,000 for their schools. She told E! News' Daily Pop all about the contest on May 26, emphasizing just how grateful she is for today's educators.

"Sometimes kids don't see their potential because no one's told them," Kelly began. "My mom didn't even know I could really sing for a while...But those teachers, they saw that in me and they were like, 'We're not letting you off the hook. You have a gift,' and they really pushed me."

"All those teachers," she added, "that's why I'm here."

Kelly's mom Jeanne was a teacher herself, and while she may not have known it at the time, she was inspiring her daughter in a big way.

Kelly Clarkson Through the Years

"She put herself through college after a big divorce with my father and didn't have any money," Kelly recalled. "Then [she] had to be a student teacher—you make no money; she had another job on top of that—like, it was just a really hard road. And I saw all of it and I saw her overcome it."

This is largely why Kelly—a multi-hyphenate in every sense of the word—has the work ethic she does. "We can do hard things, and she showed me that from the beginning," Kelly said. "And definitely how I persevere when I really want something."

To give back to teachers like her mom, Kelly not only partnered with Norwegian Cruise Lines for the "Giving Joy" contest, she's also heading back to her home state of Texas to perform for the winning educators—an experience that will be especially exciting since she'll likely be debuting new music.

"That's the first time we're going to do like a full show in a while," Kelly explained, teasing that she'll be able to play "a couple things" from a yet-to-be announced project. She wouldn't go into detail, but she did reveal that while it's not her next album, it's something "people have been wanting me to do for years."

As for that next studio album—set to be her first since splitting from her ex-husband, Brandon Blackstock—Kelly said she's simply "not ready."

"It's just a big record for me because of my life," she explained. "Obviously the last two years have been very difficult."

Seemingly referencing her and Brandon's two childrenRiver, 7, and Remington, 6—Kelly added that she also has "little hearts to worry about."

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Plus, if Kelly's devoting herself to anything this summer—during which she plans to take a well-deserved break from working—it's taking those two kiddos on a cruise themselves. "They've seen the commercials for NCL, so they're like, 'Oh! I want to go on that!'" Kelly laughed. "So it's just finding the right time."

The "Giving Joy" contest's winners, meanwhile, will set sail this October. To nominate a teacher, head to NCL's website before June 3.